US 6924140 B2
A system for capturing and neutralizing HAP's (hazardous air pollutants) and VOC's (volatile organic compounds) at the source point by providing a closed loop remediation system which utilizes an air collection, treatment and control module containing a predetermined size bay of multiple interchangeable mini-biofilter cartridges that function to consume the pollutant and recirculate remediated air back to the source point of the pollutant. The system includes establishing a closed loop air system at a work station which generates and emits VOC's, capturing the VOC's in the air stream flow and transporting them directly into an adjacent biofilter module which contains selected microorganisms in mini-cartridges which biodegrade said VOC's and recirculates remediated air back to the source point of the pollutant.
1. A system which remediates pollutants and toxins on site which comprises:
(a) a work station which generates HAP's and/or VOC's;
(b) an air ducting system adjacent said work station which captures said HAP/VOC's;
(c) at least one self-contained removable biofilter cartridge positioned adjacent to said work station, wherein said cartridge contains a source of selected microorganisms which function to degrade said HAP/VOC's; and wherein said cartridge comprises an outer housing having a pair of oppositely disposed open ends, said cartridge being further positioned by insertion between a closure member which contains an exhaust port positioned at one end of said housing, and a second closure member in the form of a water reservoir positioned at said opposite end of said housing with said reservoir further containing an inlet for a source of air to be treated with said inlet and said exhaust port being connected to said ducting system, and circulation means positioned to promote the flow of air through said system; and
(d) where in operation, captured HAP/VOC's are transported to and through said air ducting system and cartridge which recirculates remediated air back to the source point of the pollutants at said work station, and where when a given cartridge is spent or damaged from use, it may be readily removed from the system and a new cartridge inserted in its place.
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19. A self contained, removable, mini-reactor cartridge suitable for use in treating air containing HAP's and/or VOC's which comprises an outer housing having a pair of oppositely disposed open ends, a source of microorganism which are capable of biodegrading HAP/VOCs contained within said housing, with said cartridge being removeably inserted between a closure in the form of a blower housing member which contains an exhaust fan and an exhaust port positioned at one end of said housing, and a second closure in the form of a water reservoir positioned at said opposite end of said housing, with said reservoir further containing an inlet for a source of air to be treated, where in operation, air to be treated is passed through said inlet and passed through a suitable source of said microorganisms contained in said housing which degrade the said HAP's and VOC's of interest, with said treated air being released through said exhaust port, and where said two closure members function to support and hold said cartridge in place during use.
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21. A self contained, removable, mini-reactor cartridge suitable for use in treating air containing HAP's and/or VOC's which comprises an outer housing having a pair of oppositely disposed open ends, a source of microorganism which are capable of biadegrading HAP/VOCs contained within said housing, with said cartridge being removeably inserted between a closure member which contains an exhaust port positioned at one end of said cartridge housing, and a second closure member in the form of a water reservoir positioned at said opposite end of said cartridge housing, with said reservoir further containing an inlet for a source of air to be treated, and a circulating fan positioned at said inlet end, where in operation, air to be treated is passed through said inlet and passed through said microorganisms contained in said housing which degrade said HAP's and VOC's of interest, with said treated air being released through said exhaust part, and where said two closure members function to support and hold said cartridge in place during use.
The present invention relates in general to a system for removal and treatment of pollutants in air, and more specifically to a source point closed loop remediation system. With respect to HAP (hazardous air pollutants) and VOC (volatile organic compounds) current methods of VOC removal include distillation; oxidation combustion ionization; biofiltration; and activated carbon adsorption. All of these methods are large whole-building fixed systems having high installation costs, and, with the exception of biofiltration, have high energy consumption and introduce new pollution considerations or generate hazardous waste.
The present invention includes the use of multiple small mini-reactor cartridges to reduce installation and repair or replacement and maintenance costs, permit incremental system expansion, and allow a variety of suitable mini-reactor based remediation technologies to be used together in series or parallel.
Present systems typically treat and exhaust an entire volume of building air without considering the actual pollution source and concentration, resulting in inefficient pollution removal. Furthermore, air heating or cooling of the makeup building air is required which adds to total energy consumed.
Biofiltration utilizes the natural process of biodegradation which in its most basic form occurs in a compost pile. Most typically, water-borne microbes consume the carbon in the organic matter of the pile, and release carbon dioxide and water. By passing an airstream containing an organic vapor (HAP/VOC) containing carbons through such a compost pile, the microbes will preferentially consume the more readily available carbon in the gas stream, thereby cleansing said airstream.
Notwithstanding initial installation costs, biofiltration is a proven and low energy cost, natural method of HAP/VOC remediation that has been in commercial use in large installations both in the United States and abroad for over 15 years. In biofiltration, no secondary carbon source (natural gas) is required to maintain combustion and make up for varying concentrations of VOC laden air as in the most widely employed oxidation process; and no hazardous waste is generated as with carbon absorption; and no by-products other than water and carbon dioxide are released. Distillation is usually not economically practical due to relatively low work place concentrations and value of the recovered chemical.
Because of their large size and method of construction and operation, current bioremediation systems have relatively high installation, secondary energy consumption and operational costs approaching the other methods.
Current biofiltration technology includes the use of naturally biodegradable media such as compost and vegetation as the supporting media and the source of both microbes and nutrients, and has proven to have inconsistent and relatively uncontrollable and repeatable long term field performance.
The present invention includes complete control of the microbial environment with the use of stable artificial media in conjunction with controlled water and nutrient addition for consistent operation. The present invention further includes the inoculation of said environment with specifically isolated and custom grown inoculate tailored to the VOC/HAP to be remediated to maintain high and consistent removal efficiency.
With respect to bioremediation, the following prior art is representative of the state of the art with respect to treating HAP's and VOC's.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,880,061 broadly relates to a contamination free work station by providing an air stream across the work station to remove any contaminants through filter means as shown in the figure.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,734,111 is directed to a process and apparatus for cleaning spent air or air polluted with styrene and filtering out the styrene in an apparatus and process which uses a specific biofilter utilizing a spruce bark and microorganisms thereon to degrade the styrene.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,409,834 relates to an invention and apparatus for removing pollutants from a source of polluted air such as a work paint station (see FIG. 1). Polluted air from the work station is introduced from a supply conduit into a wet plenum chamber which has a spray nozzle which sprays microbial laden liquid into the incoming polluted air.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,691,192 is related to a biological filter for removing volatile compounds from gas emissions such as styrene. The styrene is broken down with a fungus which is contained on a carrier or inert material such as perlite. Activated carbon may also be added to the mixture.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,869,323 is directed to a biofilter which uses a bioreactor treatment tank comprising at least one bioreactor bed and in which the air filtration is conducted such that the air flow through the tank is from the top downward, with the biofiltration being conducted under pressures of less than an ambient.
These inventions teach the conventional type of prior art systems which are used for aerobic bioremediation in commercial plants. All the above, and this patent pertain to aerobic biofiltration wherein the biodegradation occurs on the surface of a water film by a consortium of aerobic microbes.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,010,900 is directed to enhancing biodegradation using a bioreactor. The bioreactor contains an aqueous phase in which a microorganism capable of degrading a sparingly soluble volatile organic compound is contained. The patent further teaches contacting the solution with a gas/vapor stream comprising the sparingly soluble volatile organic compound such that the soluble volatile organic is solubilized in the aqueous phase to form an enriched solution, and then incubating the enriched solution so that the microorganism degrades the solubilized sparingly soluble volatile organic compound thereby enhancing biodegradation. (This is an anaerobic process and is not related to the present invention).
It can therefore be seen from the above cited commercial practices and prior art that there is a need for a bioremediation system which reduces natural gas and energy consumption and high fixed and operation costs of remediation; adds efficiency, control and repeatability to the bioremenation process; and does not produce hazardous waste by-products as is typical of the current prior art systems.
It is therefore an object of the present invention to provide a shipable by common carrier, expandable, movable, modular components, cartridge based closed loop system for remediation of HAP/VOC's within a manufacturing plant at the source.
It is another object of the present invention to provide an efficient biological system which reduces HAP/VOC's to water and carbon dioxide.
It is another object of the present invention to remediate process HAP/VOC's concentration over 90%.
It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a system for collection and neutralizing HAP's (hazardous air pollutants) and VOC's (volatile organic compounds) at the source point.
Another object is to contain the biological eco-system in multiple small biofilter cartridges.
Another object is to use an artificial support media for the water film that supplies no naturally biodegradable matter and therefore will not degrade or compact.
Another object is the use of specifically isolated inoculate containing highly efficient microbe strain(s) tailored to maximally consume the VOC/HAP to be remediated.
Another object is to provide appropriate nutrient addition to enhance microbial growth.
Another object is to provide and maintain a suitable water film to the media to sustain the inoculate eco-system.
Another object is to replenish the media water film by periodically and discontinuously bio-recirculating inoculate and nutrient laden water through the media at a low flow rate.
Another object is to flush excess biomass and cleanse and reactivate the media by periodically and discontinuously filtering and recirculating inoculate and nutrient laden water through the media at a high flow rate.
Another object is to collect, filter, store, replenish and recirculate the nutrient and inoculate laden water within a remediation system at the work station.
Another object is to allow reversal of the airstream flow through the reactor cartridges.
Another object is to contain air and water functions in remediation modules.
Another object is to allow top-to-bottom physical reversal of the reactor cartridge in the system.
Another object is to allow system reversal of the airstream direction through the cartridge.
Another object is to allow for series and/or parallel airflow through multiple cartridges.
Another object is to allow various cartridges to contain differing media, inoculate, and/or remediation methods.
Another object is to allow individual replacement of a single cartridge in a remediation system.
Another object is to use the mini-reactor cartridge embodiment for other granular remediation techniques.
Another object is to include exhaust stream dehumidifcation.
Another object is to combine all remediation system functions in a single cartridge assembly.
The present invention is directed to providing a closed loop modular remediation system which includes air collection with air and water treatment and control and contains a predetermined size bay of multiple interchangeable mini-biofilter cartridges that function to consume the pollutant and recirculate remediated air back to the source point of the pollutant.
In one embodiment, a closed loop air stream is established at a work station area involving fiberglass laminating which generates and emits the styrene HAP, which is captured by the air stream flow which transports the emitted styrene directly into an adjacent biofilter module system as described above which contains selected microorganisms in multiple mini-biofilter cartridges which consume the styrene, and recirculates the remediated air back to the source point of the pollutant at the work station. The air flow is continuous and the system serves to maintain the styrene level at the work station at safe levels.
In a further embodiment, multiple sources of contaminants in a given room or area can be captured and treated at a single remediation station or multiple remediation stations can be used within a given room or area to treat higher concentrations.
For a further understanding of these and objects of the invention, reference will be made to the following detailed description of the invention which is to be read in connection with the accompanying drawing, wherein:
The present invention is more fully understood with reference to the drawings where
In a further embodiment of the present invention as shown in
A water recirculation pump 72 and associated water transfer manifold 74 may optionally be added to recirculate the microbe and nutrient laden water from the reservoir 58 to the top of the reactor cartridge 40. Optionally dehumidification may be required to lower exit air moisture buildup.
A single cartridge system of the type shown in
The blower housing as shown in
The system parameters were then adjusted to achieve a 5 CFM airflow giving a nominal 45 second empty bed dwell time. The water flow was set at a nominal flow of 8 oz./hr. to supply sufficient bed moisture in the range of 4 oz./hr. to account for evaporation due to a 40% RH ambient air, plus an additional 100% excess to maintain some trickling flow through the bed.
The system was then loaded with 2 gallons of inoculate and nutrient mixed in water. The inoculate used was Pseudomonas Putida which is capable of growth on toluene and is grown on a dilute minimal medium using styrene as a sole carbon and energy source. The inoculate is used in a concentration of about 108 CFU/ml and introduced to the cartridge by trickling over the perlite. The nutrient used was a common slow release granular garden fertilizer sold by Agway under the trade name Osomocote.
A standard styrene source which releases 100 PPM styrene at 5 CFM was connected to the inlet port, and the system blower and pump were started up. Measurements were taken with a photo-ionization detector (PID) at the inlet and outlet of the system. Within 1 hour of startup, the average concentration in the outlet stream was 18 PPM, and after 24 hours had dropped under 9 PPM for a 90%+ reduction in styrene concentration.
Earlier lab tests made on a similar size configuration set to the same airflow dwell time parameters, but using a horizontal lab reactor loaded with oak chips and natural compost, and with no water trickling or inoculate addition achieved a 75% removal rate after 7 days of operation, and maintained in that range for over 2 months until the test was terminated due to the bed drying out.
Another lab test using the same lab reactor and test setup and loaded with oak chips, and the inoculate, had faster startup results on the order of 4 days and better long term remediation on the order of 85%, until the natural bed settled and bed channeling occurred some time after 3 months. This was indicated by a decrease in remediation down to 80%. Disassembly of the reactor confirmed the channeling along with some bed dryup and compaction.
A further lab test using the same lab and test setup was loaded with plastic pellets and a water pump added to recirculate the water from the bottom of the reactor to the top. The Pseudomonas Putida inoculate described above was used with the addition of a slow release nutrient. Initial startup time was on the order of 2 days to reach a 80% removal rate, with 90% being reached after 4 days. The reactor efficiency continued to increase. Pump failure eventually occurred after another 10 days at which point the removal rate was up to 94%.
It should be understood that the present invention is not to be limited by the preferred embodiments of the mini-cartridge, which may be increased in size up to a maximum weight and volume that can be put on a pallet, moved by a factory pallet jack or fork lift, and shipped by common carrier. This is as opposed to current large permanent single reactor designs requiring a pit or rigging to install.
While the present invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to the preferred mode as illustrated in the drawing, it will be understood by one skilled in the art that various changes in detail and configuration may be effected therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the claims.